Villages and Valleys of Bhutan

12 nights, 5 village days

  • Timeless villages, rich culture
  • Himalayan valleys, panoramic views
  • Hillside forts and monasteries

Explore the Paro valley, home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries. Enjoy a warm welcome in the valley village of Ura, walk with your own guide through fertile fields, deep gorges and forested hills. Get to know the local way of life and discover the ancient traditions of this fascinating land.

Gross National Happieness

Bhutan prides itself on a sustainable tourism approach based around the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. There is therefore a minimum daily charge for foreign visitors of US$250 per day in order to maintain tourism standards. This can make it seem an expensive destination - but  your holiday price is inclusive of the daily tourism levy and it is a privilge worth paying for to experience the wonders of this Himalayan land.


Monasteries and temples

Your holiday starts in the wonderful Paro valley with views across paddy fields of red rice towards resplendent Mount Chomolhari, whose glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro River).  Discover the astonishing white-walled Tiger’s Nest monastery, set high on a cliff-edge.

 


Authentic village life

Travel east to Bumthang, via the sacred burning lake, to reach the heart of Bhutan. Discover forts and palaces, before reaching the valley village of Ura, where a small road leads to a cluster of stone houses with wooden shingle roofs and tiny temples. Stay in a community-run guesthouse, enjoy day walks and soak up the local tales and traditions in this timeless village.

 


Across the Valleys

Discover Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving as you return eastwards and marvel at the many chortens (shrines) and dzongs (forts) with their watchtowers spread across the valleys. Visit Bhutan's capital, Thimpu.

We look after you from the moment of your arrival at Paro airport. Your holiday includes transfers, your own guide, accommodation in the cities and village guesthouses and with all meals provided in the villages. We have devised each of our holidays to provide a good balance between activity and relaxation; please feel free to tailor your holiday to your exact requirements.

Welcome at Paro

Day 1 Spend a day exploring the historic town of Paro, set at 2,200m, with splendid views across the fertile valley. Visit the hilltop fort, Rinpung Dzong and its watchtower on the ridge above. Meet your guide to discuss the days ahead.

Day 2 With a second night in Paro, take a day excursion on foot to the renowned Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. Perched on the cliff edge, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The walk takes 2-3 hours, with use of horses if required. Explore the temples scattered beyond the main monastery and look out for rare Himalayan pheasants.

Day 3 An internal flight takes you from Paro to Bumthang. Visit the historic Kuje temple, a key Buddhist landmark, and the ancient Jambay temple and Wangdicholing Palace. Overnight in Bumthang (2,650m).

Into the Ura Valley

Day 4 From Bumthang, you are transferred by road into the Ura Valley and the village of Ura (2-3 hours). En-route, visit Mebar Tsho the sacred burning lake. Visit Shingner village and stop at Shathang La Pass for a view across the Ura valley towards Mt. Gangkar Phunsum. From here, choose to continue the journey to Ura on foot (1.5 hours) or continue by car. Overnight community guesthouse.

Day 5 - day 8 Enjoy four more days with the community of Ura. Enjoy day walks through the valley and surrounding hills, visit local farms growing wheat and barley, meet yak-herds and discover forests carpeted with mushrooms. Enjoy local dishes freshly cooked by your hosts at the community guesthouse. Visit the local weavers, discover local monasteries, and enjoy local folk music. We highly recommend you enjoy the hot stone bath, locally known as Ura Grakchu, which has long been used by the local people to occasionally take a deep bath and comfort/relaxation therapy.

Across the valleys

Day 9 From Ura, your journey by road descends to the Chhume valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving. After visiting the weavers, continue to the Trongsa Dzong museum and watchtower and explore the nearby villages. After lunch you proceed to Gangtey over Pele-la pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west Bhutan. Continue to the hidden Phobjika Valley, visiting the striking Gangtey Goemba, sitting at the head of the valley. Overnight farmhouse accommodation in Gangtey village.

Day 10 The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of black necked cranes. Visit the crane centre in the morning (October - February only) before journeying by road to visit the impressive ancient fortress, Punakha Dzong (2.5 hours). After lunch drive to Chimi Lhakhang, an important pilgrimage site standing on a round hillock. Overnight at a delightful Punakha homestay.

Day 11 From Punakha, drive towards Thimphu, stopping briefly at Dochu la pass (3,088m) which offers glimpses of the eastern Himalayan ranges. Afternoon exploring the small city of Thimphu, Bhutan's picturesque and captivating capital. Overnight Thimphu hotel.

Day 12 Enjoy a second day and night visiting the sights of Thimphu.

Homeward Journey

Day 13 Transfer to Paro airport (1-2 hours) for homeward flight.

Entry into Bhutan

The Bhutan government is keen to control tourism and to ensure high standards are maintained. All tourists (except Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passport holders), who wish to travel to Bhutan, must book their holiday through an officially registered Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners. Village Ways holidays to Bhutan are arranged through our Bhutanese partner, Joyful Bhutan Tours and Treks Joyful Tours, who will make arrangements for your tourist visa and your connecting flights between Paro airport and the regional hub of your choice (Bangkok, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Kathmandu). You will arrange flights from your home base to your selected regional hub.

The Bhutanese Department of Tourism sets a non-negotiable minimum, all-inclusive average daily rate for foreign tourists to Bhutan and withholds a small levy towards maintaining tourism standards. Your holiday price meets the minimum criterion and includes the tourism levy.

 

Flights

We ask our guests to make their own arrangements for international travel to a connecting regional hub airport. We will then arrange the onward flight into Bhutan's Paro Airport and the internal flight at an additional cost.

From the UK, guests can fly to Delhi (carriers include Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air India and Jet Airways)  or Bangkok (British Airways, Thai Airways). Bhutan's national carrier Druk Air also flies into Paro from Kathmandu, Dhaka and Bodh Gaya, Mumbai and Kolkata. We can arrange connecting flights to Paro from any of these destinations. You can book your own flight through to Paro if you prefer.

Visas for Bhutan

Tourists need a visa for entry into Bhutan, which can only be obtained through a local operator. You will need to send us the photo-page of your passport and we will make arrangements for your tourist visa into Bhutan. Please ensure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond travel. The visa is processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan, and once received the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours. On arival at Paro airport you will be required to show your visa clearance letter and the visa will then be stamped into your passport. 

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa on arrival, with a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity.

Transit Visas

You may also need to arrange a transit visa for India, Nepal or Thailand, depending on your flight route. Wherever you're coming from, check to find out your exact visa requirements with the country's Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in your country of residence.

India Check India visa requirements for transits through Indian airports. In most cases it is probably advisable to get a full India eTourist visa which allows double entry. Click here for India visa information.

Nepal Transit visas for Nepal are available for a fee of USD5 and allow a 24 hour stay in Nepal. This can be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu airport with the production of your onward flight ticket. The transit visa can also be obtained online before travel. Click here for Nepal visa information.

Thailand British citizens can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa. You may need proof of onward travel. Click here for Thai visa information.

Tailor-made

The suggested itinerary can be extended if you wish to spend more time exploring the foothills and valleys, or shortened if your time in Bhutan is limited. Our knowledgeable staff will be delighted to help fashion the holiday to suit you.

Bhutan and India

With Delhi as a gateway, you may like to combine a holiday in Bhutan with a stay in our partner villages in India. Let our specialist team help you to create the trip of a lifetime.

Insurance

Everyone booking a holiday with Village Ways must take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy at the time of booking; check that the policy you choose includes full cover for belongings, for liability, and for accident and medical care including emergency cover (air ambulance etc). It should also include cancellation cover.

We ask that you provide us with details of your policy including emergency contact numbers.

Health & Immunisation

Ask your medical practitioner for up-to-date information on health requirements for India, and allow time to obtain the appropriate immunisation.

It is advisable to carry any proprietary medication you may require with you as you travel, and to take sensible precautions regarding climate, altitude, hygiene and general safety.

Climate and Seasons

 October to December is a wonderful time to visit Bhutan, with fresh days and clear views with sunny skies. From mid December to February the mornings and evenings get colder but views are spectacular. March and April are dry and pleasant, with warm days and valleys bright with rhododendron. From May the heat increases and days become humid before monsoon rains arrive from June to September.

Contact our bookings team

Our experienced reservations team will be happy to talk you through your options for your holiday to Bhutan. Why not combine your holiday here with a stay in India?

From UK
01223 750049

From France:
05 33 52 07 74

From India:
(0) 99 208 82409 or (0) 98 690 05642

From other countries:
+44 1223 750049

Email us at:
info@villageways.com

Booking enquiries: 01223 750049